More than 2000 koalas are feared dead in the NSW and QLD bushfires, & more News in 5.

– With AAP.

1. More than 2000 koalas are feared dead in the NSW and QLD bushfires.

An inquiry into koala populations and habitat in NSW is expected to hear evidence that more than 2000 of the native Australian marsupial may have died on the state’s north coast in recent bushfires.

The state parliament’s upper house inquiry will hold an urgent hearing on Monday to discuss the extent of damage to the koala population from bushfires.

Thousands of hectares of koala habitat across northern NSW and southeast Queensland have been destroyed in the recent bushfires.

Koalas are listed as vulnerable in Queensland, NSW and the ACT, largely a result of habitat clearing.

nsw koala population
Koalas are listed as vulnerable in Queensland, NSW and the ACT. Image: Getty.

On Sunday evening, the Rural Fire Service said there were 91 bush and grass fires in NSW, 48 of which were not contained.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital president Sue Ashton told Mamamia in November the significant loss of the koala population is "a national tragedy".

She further explained the lack of data surrounding the loss of koalas has led to debate over whether koalas are now considered a "functionally extinct" species.

"I don't think the government has said they are [functionally extinct], but we certainly would say they are. That's the result of the fires," Ashton explained, adding it takes 18 months to breed just one koala, so to replace the "hundreds that have died" will be no short task.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, chair of the inquiry, said the loss of koalas should be a wake-up call.


"Today's hearing is timely and necessary. We will be hearing from some of Australia's leading experts on koalas, bushfire and climate change," Ms Faehrmann said in a statement on Sunday.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital's clinical director Cheyne Flanagan and Indigenous fire practitioners are also due to give evidence, as well as representatives of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

"We will also hear recommendations that must be urgently taken to ensure these fires don't lead to the irreversible decline of koalas in NSW," Ms Faehrmann said.

"Hearing that we have lost up to a third of koala habitat and more than 2000 koalas on the North Coast is utterly devastating and should be a wakeup call for this government that they must take action to protect koala habitat."

2. Conditions ease amid Queensland bushfire chaos.

Fierce bushfires that swept across southeast Queensland and menaced people's homes significantly eased on Sunday.

A watch and act warning is in place for a bushfire burning in the Burrum Coast National Park on Sunday afternoon.

Residents were being told to prepare to leave the area because the situation could get worse quickly.

The fire is located at Goodwood Road, near Foleys Road and Pierson Road, Goodwood and is travelling in a south, south-westerly direction.

An advice warning has been issued for several fires stretching across the southeast corner to the farming town of Kingaroy, 200km north of Brisbane.


Those fires are at Mount Stanley, Redbank Creek, Patrick Estate on the edge of Lake Wivenhoe and Cypress Gardens.

A fire that whipped through Cypress Gardens has claimed swathes of bushland, leaving behind smouldering, blackened stumps.

Conditions have eased off, a spokeswoman for Queensland's Fire and Emergency Services said on Sunday morning.

However the weather was expected to worsen later in the day.

A high fire danger rating is in place for the Darling Downs and Granite Belt to Cape York Peninsula, and will ramp up to severe in the Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders on Monday.

Authorities are yet to confirm if one home was destroyed in the Bundamba fire on Saturday.

A shipping container full of fireworks exploded, setting off the pyrotechnic devices, and requiring 35 crews and four aircraft to bring it under control.

An emergency zone declared for the area was lifted by police overnight.

3. Coburg locals rally for safety after a woman was allegedly raped in the area.

Locals from a Melbourne suburb have marched "to reclaim our Merri Creek" on Sunday after an accused rapist allegedly choked and nearly drowned a woman as she jogged in a park on Tuesday evening.

The accused rapist, Joel Russo, 25, faces a string of charges including 10 of rape, one of attempted rape and three of sexual assault over the attack along Merri Creek at Coburg.


Police said his alleged victim survived the attack and went to a nearby food outlet to raise the alarm.

Approximately 400 people gathered at Mayer park on Sunday and listened to speeches from women before walking up along the trail to show their solidarity with all those who have survived assaults.

The rally was organised by a local group of women that gather to run together along the waterway and wanted to take a stand after the assault.

"We're a group of local runners and we just enjoy running in our local community. When we heard about the assault we were obviously very upset and shocked," rally spokeswoman Olivia Greenwell said.

"I am conscious of what's happened around this area but I think there's been attacks like this all over Melbourne and Australia. There is a a big conversation that we need to be having about what causes men's violence against women."

The assault led the local community to wonder about their safety around the creek and encouraged the running group to organise the rally to show it would not prevent them from actively enjoying their local area, Ms Greenwell told AAP.

"We've seen the local community come together in organising this event and we're aware of some conversations and actions that are continuing to happen to see how we can make our community safer for everyone."

The accused perpetrator of the attack asked to not be brought into Melbourne Magistrates Court for his filing hearing on Thursday, where his lawyer said the 25-year-old had bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, an acquired brain injury and intellectual disability.

His lawyer did not apply for bail and Russo was remanded to reappear for a committal mention via video link on March 12.

4. Labor's environment spokeswoman Terri Butler has warned against equating coal mining jobs with renewable energy roles in the push for climate change reform.


Labor's environment spokeswoman Terri Butler has warned against equating coal mining jobs with renewable energy roles in the push for climate change reform.

Ms Butler was speaking at Labor think-tank Chifley Research Centre's Towards 2022 conference, a forum designed to look at the opposition's direction ahead of the next federal election.

"If I said, hands up who is willing to take an $80,000 a year pay cut right now, I don't reckon many people would put their hand up," she told Labor environmentalists.

The left faction frontbencher said there was a real question about what people were willing to do, rather than what they wanted.

Ms Butler said assurances there would be plenty of new jobs in renewable energy could sound blithe.

"You can see why some people would be saying 'well that's easy for you to say, mate'," the Brisbane-based MP said.

"The experience of this change to renewables, where there is genuine concern that good, secure, well-paid jobs could potentially be replaced with insecure less well-paid jobs."

"It's not an equivalence to say there'll be just as many jobs because what people really want is certainty, security, they want to know the living standards they enjoy will be enjoyed by their children."

It comes after Labor MP Meryl Swanson, whose Hunter Valley seat has coal mining districts, said workers in the sector didn't want to take pay cuts to work on renewable energy projects.

She said "once respected" coal miners in her electorate were earning between $100,000 and $120,000 a year.

"They don't want to screw solar panels on roofs for $40,000 a year. They don't and I don't blame them," Ms Swanson told the conference.

The Paterson MP said those workers "hate" being told to transition from coal to renewables.

"So what used to become a worthwhile well-paid job has somehow become dirty and I resent people who refer to coal as dirty," Ms Swanson said.

"We have built a nation off the back of coal. It deserves our respect."

Labor's resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon backed Ms Swanson, saying Australia could take meaningful action on emissions without forsaking local jobs.


The opposition took an electoral hit in Queensland and other parts of Australia with coal mining areas for its confusing stance on the sector.

Mr Fitzgibbon has stridently defended coal since the election after suffering a major swing against him in his Hunter Valley seat.

5. A boy has been bitten by a dingo on Fraser Island.

A boy has been bitten by a dingo on Fraser island off the Queensland coast

The attack on the school-aged child was reported on Eastern Beach at 6pm on Saturday.

Paramedics treated the boy for minor injuries to his hand, but he didn't need to be taken to hospital.

It is not the first attack on the island, also known as K'gari, this year.

A 14-month-old boy needed surgery in April after a dingo dragged him from his family's camper trailer by his head, leaving him with a fractured skull and puncture wounds.

In March, a French woman and her nine-year-old son were mauled by a dingo when they were attacked by a pack after they got out of their car.

Six weeks earlier, a six-year-old was rushed to hospital after being bitten on the leg while returning to his Eurong campsite with his family.

The state government this year increased on the spot fines for anyone caught intentionally feeding or disturbing dingoes to a minimum of $2,135 per offence, and a $10,676 maximum.

Feature Image: Getty.